Upcoming Tracing Darwin’s Path Course in the CHBR

From 30 May to 15 June, 2008, OSARA will lead a new Tracing Darwin’s Path course to the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. The course, entitled “Field Course in Sub-Antarctic Conservation: Integrating the Human Dimension to Biocultural Conservation at the Southern End of the Americas,” will provide students with an interdisciplinary research, conservation and education experience at one of the most pristine wilderness areas remaining in the world and will focus on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MaB) Program’s approach to conservation – linking people and development with biodiversity and ecosystems. In addition, the 10 students from the U.S. will also interact with a parallel master’s course from the University of Magallanes (UMAG). Finally, the program will conclude with a 4 day international workshop inaugurating the Omora Park as a long-term socio-ecological reserach site (LTSER) with national and international academics and authorities.

Lead professors Dr. Christopher Anderson and Dr. Ricardo Rozzi will place emphasis on the following specific topics:

Global change – a holistic approach to social-biological change

– Exotic and invasive species
– Climate change and the ozone hole
– Endangered cultural diversity

LTERs – moving beyond just monitoring and achieving social integration
– Terrestrial-marine linkages
– “Hidden” biodiversity – bryophytes and aquatic macroinvertebrates
– Opportunities for ecosystem restoration and decision making

For more information, email the OSARA-UNT Chile Program Assistant Kelli Moses (kelli.moses@gmail.com).

New book on the Robalo River watershed – culture and biodiversity

Libro tomas low res.jpgIn January, José Tomás Ibarra (Omora Project Coordinator) and Ximena Arango (UMAG Local Coordinator and IEB Outreach Assistant) launched the new book entitled Habitats and Inhabitants of the Robalo Watershed with a public presentation in the town library. The book was published in association with Omora, UMAG, the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and Fauna Australis and financed by the project “Views from today and yesterday of the Robalo Watershed” with the support of the Chilean National Environment Commission.

The project explores the different “tracks” left behind by the different cultures that have inhabited the watershed that houses the Omora Park and provides drinking water to Puerto Williams. Going from the Yaghans and the first English missionary colonists up to the present day, the book links both cultural and biological diversity and is the final product of a parallel course that was taught in the local elementary school by Ximena and Omora volunteer Melisa Gañan.

For more information visit: www.umag.cl/williams

President Michelle Bachelet visits Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve

Presidenta-Anderson-Rozzi low res.jpgDuring her first visit to Puerto Williams this week, President Michelle Bachelet spent the day reviewing public work projects in the town before embarking with the navy to visit Cape Horn.

After inaugurating the new public nursery school, masters students from the University of Magallanes presented the Minister of Education Yasna Provoste and the National Director of the JUNJI (the state-supported nursery school system) Estela Ortíz with gifts that included the books and educational materials that researchers of the Omora Park (Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and University of Magallanes) have prepared in conjunction with the local teachers for pre-school children.

In the afternoon, before embarking for Cape Horn, Drs. Ricardo Rozzi, Francisca Massardo and Christopher Anderson were asked by Congresswoman Carolina Goic to present the President, the head of the Chilean Navy Admiral Rodolfo Codina, and Rear Admiral Felipe Ojeda with these educational materials, plus ecotourism guide books and other publications produced by the scientists of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.

At the meeting with the president, the researchers explained the importance of the Omora Park as a long-term ecological study site, as well as the urgent need to continue implementing the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve as a model of sustainable development being created “from the South”.

President Bachelet received the ad hoc class with enthusiasm, showing her own knowledge of important issues in the archipelago, such as invasive species, and was very pleased to find out that this was one of the research groups to recently receive the “Fondos Basales” award through the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, which will help consolidate the infrastructure, investigation and outreach activities that are being conducted in the region, thus reenforcing this long-term, world class initiative.

As Dr. Rozzi explained to President Bachelet, “We are working so that the Omora Park will be to the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve what the Darwin Station has been to the Galapagos Islands Biosphere Reserve, providing a critical link between science and sustainable development to improve social well being and biocultural conservation.”

Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve to receive two new scientists

The University of Magallanes recently received the good news that the Chilean national science commission (CONICYT) will fund its proposal to integrate two new faculty members whose functions will be to study invasive exotic species and fisheries management in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR).

The grant, written by Dr. Andrés Mansilla (OSARA Advisor) and Dr. Christopher Anderson (OSARA President), will significantly strengthen the team of investigators in the CHBR and also re-enforce the new priority of marine-terrestrial studies.

100_0103.jpgThe project is a first for the UMAG, which as a regional university is often at a disadvantage to receive important national funding. The current program will be funded by the prestigious Bicentenniel Initiative of the Chilean government and is meant to strengthen research teams by providing three years of funding for Ph.D. scientists that are subsequently incorporated into the full-time staff of the sponsor institution.